Everybody's Talkin'
"Everybody's Talkin'" is a folk rock
Folk rock
Folk rock is a musical genre combining elements of folk music and rock music. In its earliest and narrowest sense, the term referred to a genre that arose in the United States and the UK around the mid-1960s...

 song released by Fred Neil
Fred Neil
Fred Neil was an American folk singer-songwriter in the 1960s and early 1970s. He did not achieve commercial success as a performer, and is mainly known through other people's recordings of his material – particularly "Everybody's Talkin'", which became a hit for Harry Nilsson after being...

 in 1966 that became a global success for Harry Nilsson
Harry Nilsson
Harry Edward Nilsson III was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as Nilsson...

 in 1969, reaching #2 and #6 on the Billboard
Billboard (magazine)
Billboard is a weekly American magazine devoted to the music industry, and is one of the oldest trade magazines in the world. It maintains several internationally recognized music charts that track the most popular songs and albums in various categories on a weekly basis...

 Adult Contemporary chart
Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
The Adult Contemporary chart is a weekly chart published in Billboard magazine that lists the most popular songs on adult contemporary and "lite-pop" radio stations in the United States...

 and Pop Singles chart
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 respectively and winning a Grammy
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 after it was featured on the soundtrack
Soundtrack album
A soundtrack album is any album that incorporates music directly recorded from the soundtrack of a particular feature film or television program. In some cases, not all the tracks from the movie are included in the album; however there are rare cases of songs in the trailers that do not appear in...

 for the film Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Dustin Hoffman and newcomer Jon Voight in the title role. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John...

. The song, which describes the speaker's desire to retreat from other people to the ocean, is among the most famous works of both artists. It has been covered by many notable artists. The song later appeared in the 1994 film Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic comedy-drama romance film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise...

 and is also on the soundtrack
Forrest Gump (soundtrack)
Forrest Gump is the soundtrack album based on the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning film, Forrest Gump, and contains music from many well-known artists.-Charts:...

. It also appeared in the 1989 episode The Jolly Boys Outing, in the English sitcom Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses is a British sitcom, created and written by John Sullivan. Seven series were originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom between 1981 and 1991, with sporadic Christmas specials until 2003...

, in the Seinfeld
Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself...

 episode The Mom and Pop Store, and in the comedy film Borat
Borat Sagdiyev is a satirical fictional character invented and performed by English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen...



The song was first released on Neil's second album, 1966's self-titled Fred Neil
Fred Neil (album)
Fred Neil is the 1966 2nd album from Fred Neil, a pioneer Folk rock musician. The album has a more laid-back sound than his debut, and contains his legendary songs "Everybody's Talkin' " and "The Dolphins"...

. It was composed towards the end of the session, after Neil had become anxious to wrap the album so he could return to his home in Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

. Manager Herb Cohen
Herb Cohen
Herbert "Herb" Cohen was an American personal manager, record company executive, and music publisher, best known as the manager of Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, and many other Los Angeles-based musicians in the 1960s and 1970s.-Life and career:Cohen was born in New York...

 promised that if Neil wrote and recorded a final track, he could go. "Everybody's Talkin, recorded in one take, was the result.

Toby Creswell of 1001 Songs noted that the song had parallels to Neil's later life—like the hero of the Midnight Cowboy, he looked "for fame to match his talents, discover[ed] that success in his profession isn't all its cracked up to be" and wanted to retreat. Five years later, Neil permanently fulfilled the promise of the speaker in the song, rejecting fame to live the rest of his life in relative obscurity "where the sun keeps shining / Thru' the pouring rain" in his home in Coconut Grove.

Harry Nilsson version

Nilsson was searching for a potentially successful song when Rick Jarrard
Rick Jarrard
Rick Jarrard was a staff producer for RCA Records during the 1960s. Artists he worked with included Jose Feliciano, The Family Tree, Harry Nilsson, Stone Country, The Loading Zone and Jefferson Airplane. In the earlier part of that decade, Jarrard was a member of the Greenwood County Singers, a...

 played the track for him, and he decided to release it on his 1968 album Aerial Ballet
Aerial Ballet
Aerial Ballet is the third album by Harry Nilsson released in 1968.Aerial Ballet was Nilsson's second album for RCA Victor, and was titled after the highwire circus act of his grandparents. It consists almost entirely of songs written by him, including "One", which later became a Number Five hit...

. When Derek Taylor
Derek Taylor
Derek Taylor was an English journalist, writer and publicist, best known for his work as press officer for The Beatles...

 recommended Nilsson for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack to director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

 John Schlesinger
John Schlesinger
John Richard Schlesinger, CBE was an English film and stage director and actor.-Early life:Schlesinger was born in London into a middle-class Jewish family, the son of Winifred Henrietta and Bernard Edward Schlesinger, a physician...

, Schlesinger selected "Everybody's Talkin, preferring the cover to the song Nilsson proposed, "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City".

The song was used as the theme song
Theme music
Theme music is a piece that is often written specifically for a radio program, television program, video game or movie, and usually played during the title sequence and/or end credits...

 for the movie and became closely identified with it; Nilsson's cover is also known as "Everybody's Talkin' (Theme from Midnight Cowboy)". William J. Mann in his biography of Schlesinger noted that "one cannot imagine Midnight Cowboy now without 'Everybody's Talkin''".


Chart (1968–1969) Peak
Australian Singles Chart
ARIA Charts
The ARIA charts are the main Australian music sales charts, issued weekly by the Australian Recording Industry Association. The charts are a record of the highest selling singles and albums in various genres in Australia. ARIA commenced compiling its own charts in-house from the week ending 26 June...

Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
U.K. Singles Chart 23
Swedish Singles Chart 9
U.S. Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...


Theme and style

Described in The Rock Snob*s Dictionary as an "anti-urban plaint", "Everybody's Talkin depicts the introverted speaker's inability to connect with others. Not hearing or truly seeing them, the speaker declares an intention to leave for the ocean and the summer breeze. Allmusic's Denise Sullivan describes Neil's version as "positively spooky and Spartan" by comparison to Nilsson's better-known cover, whose arrangement she felt captured the "freedom, shrouded in regret and loss, implied in the lyric".

Reception and legacy

Nilsson's single for the song sold over a million copies and charted on both Billboards "Adult Contemporary" and "Pop Singles" charts, reaching #2 and #6 respectively in 1969. Nilsson's single also won a Grammy that year. The song became a global success and was followed by international appearances by Nilsson to perform it.

Although Nilsson himself denied that the song made him successful, 1001 Songs indicates that the hit "made Nilsson a superstar," exposing him to a much broader fan base and altering his reputation from solely that of a songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

 to a singer. After Nilsson's death, Billboard noted that Nilsson remained popularly remembered for his covers of "Everybody's Talkin and "Without You". Neil, too, is largely remembered for this song. But although Neil's second album was re-released in 1969 under the title Everybody's Talkin' in order to capitalize on the success of the song, Neil himself shunned the limelight, retiring from the industry after his final album in 1971 to live quietly in the Florida Keys
Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral archipelago in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry...

 with the millions of dollars he is estimated to have earned on royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...

 from the song. In keeping with the song's position in the works of both artists, it has been used to title several "greatest hits
Greatest hits
A greatest hits album is a music compilation album of successful, previously released songs by a particular artist or band...

" compilation albums—a 1997 release by BMG, a 2001 release by Armoury and a 2006 release by RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

 for Nilsson and a 2005 release for Neil by Raven Records
Raven Records
Raven Records is an Australian record label that specializes in retrospectives and reissues or recordings by American, British and Australian artists.Raven Records was established in 1979 by Glenn A. Baker, Kevin Mueller and Peter Shillito....

 entitled Echoes of My Mind: The Best of 1963–1971.

The song is highly regarded in the industry, having become a standard. Songwriter Jerry Leiber described it as "a very strange and beautiful song", among the "truly beautiful melodically and lyrically" songs by Fred Neil, who was described by Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

 as "[r]eclusive, mysterious and extravagantly gifted". A 2006 New York Times article characterizes the song as "a landmark of the classic-rock era." The song's popularity has proven persistent; through 2005, according to figures from Broadcast Music Incorporated
Broadcast Music Incorporated
Broadcast Music, Inc. is one of three United States performing rights organizations, along with ASCAP and SESAC. It collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed...

 reported in New York Times, the song had aired on radio and television 6.7 million times. The song's usage in Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Dustin Hoffman and newcomer Jon Voight in the title role. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John...

 has become iconic. In 2004, the song was listed by the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 as #20 in its "top 100 movie songs" for the first 100 years of film.

Cover versions

Since Nilsson's cover of the song achieved chart success, the song has been covered by many other artists—almost 100 as of 2006—including Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong , nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana....

, Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins
Chester Burton Atkins , known as Chet Atkins, was an American guitarist and record producer who, along with Owen Bradley, created the smoother country music style known as the Nashville sound, which expanded country's appeal to adult pop music fans as well.Atkins's picking style, inspired by Merle...

, The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, The Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962...

, The Ventures
The Ventures
The Ventures is an American instrumental rock band formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington. Founded by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, the group in its various incarnations has had an enduring impact on the development of music worldwide. With over 100 million records sold, the group is the best-selling...

, Spanky and Our Gang
Spanky and Our Gang
Spanky and Our Gang was an American 1960s folk-rock band led by Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane. The band derives its name from Hal Roach's popular Our Gang comedies of the 1930s...

, The Beautiful South
The Beautiful South
The Beautiful South were an English alternative rock group formed at the end of the 1980s by two former members of Hull group The Housemartins, Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway. The duo were initially joined by Sean Welch , Dave Stead and Dave Rotheray , all of whom stayed with the group throughout...

, Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett is an American singer of popular music, standards, show tunes, and jazz....

, Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Buffett
James William "Jimmy" Buffett is a singer-songwriter, author, entrepreneur, and film producer. He is best known for his music, which often portrays an "island escapism" lifestyle. Together with his Coral Reefer Band, Buffett's musical hits include "Margaritaville" , and "Come Monday"...

, Moose (band)
Moose (band)
Moose were a British indie rock band who formed in London in 1990. The original line-up included Russell Yates , K.J. “Moose” McKillop , Damien Warburton , and Jeremy Tishler . After Warburton and Tishler left the band they were replaced with Lincoln Fong , his brother Russell , and Richard Thomas...

, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Matthew Sweet
Matthew Sweet
Sidney Matthew Sweet is an American alternative rock/power pop musician. He was part of the burgeoning Athens, Georgia music scene in the early and mid-1980s before gaining commercial success during the early 1990s...

, Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond
Neil Leslie Diamond is an American singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades from the 1960s until the present....

, Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Davy Guthrie is an American folk singer. Like his father, Woody Guthrie, Arlo often sings songs of protest against social injustice...

, Percy Faith
Percy Faith
Percy Faith was a Canadian-born American bandleader, orchestrator, composer and conductor, known for his lush arrangements of pop and Christmas standards. He is often credited with creating the "easy listening" or "mood music" format which became staples of American popular music in the 1950s and...

, The Four Tops, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris is an American singer-songwriter and musician. In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists including...

, Lena Horne
Lena Horne
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was an American singer, actress, civil rights activist and dancer.Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the...

, Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck was a German composer, best known for his opera, Hänsel und Gretel. Humperdinck was born at Siegburg in the Rhine Province; at the age of 67 he died in Neustrelitz, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.-Life:After receiving piano lessons, Humperdinck produced his first composition...

, The Kingston Trio
The Kingston Trio
The Kingston Trio is an American folk and pop music group that helped launch the folk revival of the late 1950s to late 1960s. The group started as a San Francisco Bay Area nightclub act with an original lineup of Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds...

, Vera Lynn
Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn, DBE is an English singer-songwriter and actress whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II. During the war she toured Egypt, India and Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops...

, Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli
Liza May Minnelli is an American actress and singer. She is the daughter of singer and actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli....

, Jesse Malin
Jesse Malin
Jesse Malin is a rock musician. He has played with Heart Attack and D Generation. He is currently a solo recording artist.-Biography:...

, Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

, Zucchero
Adelmo Fornaciari, Commander , more commonly known by his stage name Zucchero Fornaciari or simply Zucchero /ˈtsukkero/, is an Italian rock singer. His music is largely inspired by gospel, blues and rock music, and alternates between ballads and more rhythmic boogie-like pieces.Zucchero is the...

, Madeleine Peyroux
Madeleine Peyroux
Madeleine Peyroux is an American jazz singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Peyroux is noted for her vocal style, which has been compared to that of Billie Holiday....

, BJ Thomas, Bill Withers
Bill Withers
William Harrison "Bill" Withers, Jr. is an American singer-songwriter and musician who performed and recorded from 1970 until 1985. Some of his best-known songs are "Lean on Me", "Ain't No Sunshine", "Use Me", "Just the Two of Us", "Lovely Day", and "Grandma's Hands"...

, Sir Francis Highly, Bobby Womack
Bobby Womack
Robert Dwayne "Bobby" Womack is an American singer-songwriter and musician. An active recording artist since the early 1960s where he started his career as the lead singer of his family musical group The Valentinos and as Sam Cooke's backing guitarist, Womack's career has spanned more than 40...

, Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

, Crowded House
Crowded House
Crowded House are a rock band, formed in Melbourne, Australia and led by New Zealand singer-songwriter Neil Finn. Finn is the primary songwriter and creative director of the band, having led it through several incarnations, drawing members from New Zealand , Australia and the United States...

, Linda Eder
Linda Eder
Linda Eder is an American singer and actress. She made her Broadway debut in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, for which she received 1997 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Nominations, as well as the Theatre World Award for Best Actress in a Musical...

, and Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

. It was sampled in 2002 by Paul Oakenfold
Paul Oakenfold
Paul Mark Oakenfold is a British record producer and a trance DJ.-Early Career: 1979–84:Paul Oakenfold's career was set to be a chef, after having hopes of becoming part of a band. He describes his early life as a "bedroom deejay" in a podcasted interview with Vancouver's 24 Hours, stating he grew...

 in "Starry Eyed Surprise
Starry Eyed Surprise
"Starry Eyed Surprise" is the title of a song produced by Paul Oakenfold. It was released in July 2002 as the second single from his album Bunkka. It features vocals by Shifty Shellshock of Crazy Town. It was later included on Shifty Shellshock's 2004 album "Happy Love Sick", and Oakenfold's 2007...

", in 2004 by The Go! Team
The Go! Team
The Go! Team are a six-piece band from Brighton, England. They combine indie rock and garage rock with a mixture of blaxploitation and Bollywood soundtracks, double dutch chants, old school hip hop and distorted guitars similar to the style of Sonic Youth. Their songs are a mix of live...

 in "Everyone's a V.I.P. to Someone
Thunder, Lightning, Strike
Thunder, Lightning, Strike is the debut album by The Go! Team. It was released on British label Memphis Industries in 2004 and was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize....

" and in 2007 by Mika
Mika (singer)
Mika is a British singer-songwriter.After recording his first extended play, Dodgy Holiday EP, Mika released his first full-length studio album, Life in Cartoon Motion, on Island Records in 2007. Life in Cartoon Motion sold more than 5.6 million copies worldwide and helped Mika win a Brit...

 in his Live in Cartoon Motion
Live in Cartoon Motion
Live in Cartoon Motion is Mika's first live DVD. It is a recording of the French leg of his tour, at L'Olympia Paris on 30 June 2007. The DVD also features a documentary, all Mika video clips to date and extra TV performances.-Live:...

 DVD. In 2009, it was covered by French singer Eddy Mitchell
Eddy Mitchell
Eddy Mitchell is a French singer and actor. He began his career in the late 1950s, with the group Les Chaussettes Noires , taking his name from the American expatriate tough-guy actor Eddie Constantine...

 as "Comme un étranger dans la ville". In 2010 Australian house music producer Dirty South used elements from "Everybody's Talkin in his own track "Phazing", which was released on his own record label, also called "Phazing". In 2007 a cover by Marko Haavisto in the Finnish language was recorded as "Kaikki jotain paasaa".
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